Doug Mabry is an accomplished historian with an expert’s knowledge of esoteric subjects like the tragic Trail of Tears, a barbaric event. Mabry is one of the least likely scholars to come upon long buried facts about the origin of wines in America and places like romantic Savannah that played a huge role in the introduction and distribution of these wines. Or, so it seemed until I sat down with him and learned things as fascinating as my days in graduate school.
“Before the domestic wine industry was essentially destroyed by Prohibition,” Mabry told me, “over 20,000 acres of vineyards planted by immigrant farmers were in West Georgia.” Italians, Germans, Hungarians, and even Swedes established a multicultural wine domain, and according to Mabry, were “selling wines of all sorts across America.”
Mabry is bold, calling his research conclusions “Napa East.”
Much of the wines produced there were varietals I had come upon over the years, including the wonderfully sweet Hungarian Tokay. German/American Rieslings are no stranger in my cellar, either.
But, Mabry’s work became a quest for the origin of a fabulous red wine I enjoyed about 10 years ago in Texas called Spanish Red. Dry Comal Creek, a winery deep in the Lone Star State, makes it and it is recalled as opaque, deep purple to near black and knock-out delicious with grilled meats, particularly goat, lamb and beef.
It is generally accepted that Spanish Red came into Texas and the Southwest through Spanish monks and conquistadors. “I am convinced,” says Mabry, “that this is the grape called Lenoir, that was brought into Savannah, Georgia by French Huguenots. It became very popular and with migration into the west, went along with other agricultural products.” Mabry will bet the ranch he is correct.
The growing significance of this intense research is that it helps consumers understand the universal characteristics of wines as more that a small region, and connects those of us who love wines today with those pioneers long ago who made all this possible.
New Zealand Wines:
Autumn just began, and I celebrated with some great wines from this emerging wine-producing nation. A nice afternoon tasting wines with Winemaker Simon Fell of New Zealand’s Villa Maria Estate provided an introduction into his new Riesling along with New Zealand staples like Sauvignon Banc and Pinot Noir. One thing New Zealand wines have down to perfection is food-friendly wine.
Villa Maria was founded in 1961 and Mr. Fell continues a tradition that led Villa Maria to become a New Zealand wine icon, often pushing the boundaries of winemaking in this country. Villa Maria was the first wine company in New Zealand sealing all wines from the 2004 vintage onwards with a screw cap and was also the first New Zealand producer to employ professional viticulturists.
Simon Fell revealed that he sources grapes from New Zealand’s grape growing regions of Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, and Waipara and produces wines in Auckland and Marlborough. “The Villa Maria portfolio,” he said, “consists of four wine ranges-our private bin, cellar selection, reserve and single vineyard.” We sampled glasses of wines representing each of the four, pairing them with cheeses, soups, scallops and vegetables which showcased the fruit-driven New Zealand style.
Inspired by this delightful experience, and because autumn is here, I asked the accomplished Chef Derek Barnes who owns the award-winning Derek’s Culinary Casual restaurant in Sarasota, Florida to provide an October recipe that pairs with the white wines of New Zealand. From Sauvignon Blanc to newcomers like Riesling and Viognier, you will discover some taste thrills with this combination.
Roasted Pumpkin Bisque with Lavender Marshmallows Recipe:
This recipe has been adapted from Chef Derek Barnes of Derek’s Culinary Casual restaurant, Sarasota, Florida. Chef Barnes likes to serve this delicious Pumpkin Bisque with Lavender Marshmallows and Candied Pecans. Chef Barnes says, “I began this as an item for fall menus. Now patrons request it beginning in September and even August. It is very popular.”
Photo from Edible Sarasota magazine, Fall 2010.
Article by Doc Lawrence: Doc Lawrence is a veteran food and wine journalist based in Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale. Doc Lawrence writes and lectures regularly about subjects in which he is a recognized and acknowledged expert – wine and food, theater, travel and cultural tourism, visual art and music. His works have earned praise from many editors and publishers.
Categories:Culinary Lavender Edible Flowers Fall Puddings, Creams & Custard Recipes Pumpkin Vegetable Soups